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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 6, 2011

After 14 years on the bench
Judge Quay leaves Knox with a year left in her term

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

KNOX — The town will have a new judge this year and a new planning board member.

The Knox council members learned at their re-organizational meeting on New Year’s morning that Linda Quay, who had been a town judge for 14 years, is moving to Florida. She has one year left of her four-year term.

The board also, by unanimous vote, appointed Earl Barcomb Jr. to the planning board to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Stewart Kidder in November.

Quay wrote in her letter of resignation that she is leaving her post with “deep regret.” The resignation took effect on Dec. 31. Supervisor Michael Hammond said that Quay’s pending cases have been transferred to Knox’s other judge, Jean Gagnon.

Hammond thanked Quay for her many years as town clerk and judge and wished her well.

Quay, a Democrat, was elected in November 2007 to a four-year term as judge. Councilwoman Patricia Gage, a Republican, asked at the Jan. 1 meeting if the town would hold a special election to replace her.

Hammond responded that would be too costly. “Justice Gagnon is willing to take the load,” he said.

“God forbid she’s indisposed or knows a particular person in which case you’d have to call someone else,” said Gage.

“There could always be an adjournment,” said Hammond.

He also said, “The chief judge of the Third Judicial District has indicated he can assign a judge to fill the vacancy at no cost to the town.”

Knox judges each earn $9,944 annually.

Hammond said of choosing town judges, “The state has been trying to take away lay people and place lawyers…but that never passed…A lay person can be appointed,” he concluded, but then must complete the required state training.

Neither Quay nor Gagnon is an attorney.

Diane Schilling, director of the Office of Justice Court Support, told The Enterprise this week that it was up to the town whether to appoint a new judge or let the remaining judge fill in. If the town appoints someone who is not an attorney, the appointee would have to be certified before he or she could serve as judge.  The state offers six days of training over the course of three weekends — once after November town elections and again after March village elections. The next training session begins the first weekend in April and ends on the third weekend, said Schilling.

The administrative judge of the Third Judicial District, George B. Ceresia Jr., has the power to make appointments to fill municipal vacancies, said Schilling. He does so upon request; the request could be made by the town board, the supervisor, or even by a judge, she said. The state pays for the appointed judge — $125 for a half day and $250 for a full day. The state does not pay for a judge appointed by the town, she said.

Judge Ceresia doesn’t favor lawyers in making appointments, said Schilling. “In general, they go for proximity,” she said, indicating it could be a judge from a nearby city, village, or town. “It has to be someone willing to take the assignment,” she concluded.


Quay had started her career in Knox government working for the planning board and as the court clerk. In the November 1991 elections, she and her father, Irwin King, both Democrats, won the only landslide victories in Knox. Although Democrats outnumbered Republican voters by more than 2 to 1, Republicans won a majority on the town board that year after the incumbent Democratic board had launched an unpopular property revaluation.

It was Quay’s first run for elected public office. Her father attributed his and Quay’s success to the door-to-door campaigning they did as a father-daughter team. He said of Quay, who worked as a teacher’s aid for the Berne-Knox-Westerlo school, “If we went to a house with children, it was likely Linda knew them…If there were gray hairs, that’s where I’d fit in.”

Quay, who is 53, was raised in Knox and graduated from BKW High School in 1974. She married David Quay and worked for 10 years as a teaching assistant while raising their children.

She was active in community affairs, for example, organizing a fund-raiser in 1991 to send close to $2,000 in care packages to local soldiers serving in the Middle East listed in the Enterprise’s Operation Mail Call. “Since the war is over, people are not sending as much,” Quay said then. “But the troops are still there and many will be for months. They still like the morale boost.”

Quay was appointed as the town’s court clerk for 12 years and was elected as town clerk, a position she held for eight years.

While working as a court clerk for three justices, including her father, she developed a respect for the position, she said in 2003. “I totally admired the men that I worked for,” she said. “I saw a lot of what they did.”

She was Knox’s first female judge.

While Quay could not be reached for comment this week — Hammond said she was en route to Florida — she said earlier that she made every effort to have an unbiased court, and that she had a good rapport with the attorneys and police agencies that came to the court.

She said that working with children helped her understand the ones who came before her court. “I’ve dealt with a lot of kids,” she said. “I can understand them, but I can have a firm hand.”

“More than a desire”

Hammond said this week that the town board would soon discuss how to handle the vacancy on the Knox bench, probably at its Jan. 11 meeting. While he said there is no formal application process in place, board members would probably put forward names of candidates they consider qualified for an appointment to fill out Quay’s term.

“It will take more than a desire,” Hammond said of the candidates who would be willing to serve.

Asked if he thought an attorney should be appointed to the post, Hammond said, “We prefer local peers….We don’t have an abundance of lawyers in our town.”

Barcomb appointed

Earl Barcomb Jr. was unanimously appointed by the bipartisan town board to serve on the Knox Planning Board until Dec. 31, 2017. He is enrolled as a Democrat while Kidder was a Republican.

No other candidates were considered for the post, Hammond said this week. “The board members saw him as a prime candidate,” said the supervisor.

Hammond cited Barcomb’s work on the Knox Conservation Advisory Council. “I’m impressed…with the individual himself,” said Hammond, when asked what made Barcomb stand out, “His capabilities, his recall of events, his general demeanor. People respect him.”

Raised in Knox, Barcomb, 41, lives now with his wife, Jessica, and their three children — Earl IV, who is almost 11; Sophia, 8; and Daniel, 6 — on the farm where he was raised.

“We bought it from my parents about 10 years ago,” he said. The Barcombs raise beef cows and currently have about a dozen.

“I enjoy the rural character,” he said of Knox. “It’s what attracts people. You’ve got to find a balance between planning and people’s individual rights. It can be a fine balance.”

Barcomb said he was up to date on issues like the planning board’s work on wind power because long-time planning board member Daniel Driscoll frequently meets with the Conservation Advisory Council.

Barcomb said he was “open minded” on wind and other issues facing the town’s planners.

After graduating from BKW High School, Barcomb earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University at Albany and went on to earn a master’s degree from Sage in guidance and counseling. He has worked for 16 years as a guidance counselor at Schenectady High School.

“You have to have a sense of humor,” he said of facing challenges in his work. He also said that his job had taught him skills — in listening to and understanding people — that he believes will be useful on the planning board.

Barcomb got schooling for the planning post at home, too. His father, Earl Barcomb Sr., an environmental engineer who died in 2008, had served on the town’s zoning board for a quarter of a century, much of that time as its chairman.

“He was pretty good at cutting to the chase without personalizing it,” Barcomb said of his father and his leadership role on the zoning board. He believes those are skills that he has developed himself.


By unanimous vote, the Knox Town Board made these appointments on New Year’s Day:

The Altamont Enterprise as the official newspaper;

— Key Bank, Bank of America, Bank of New York, and First Niagara Bank as designated depositories;

— Mary Alice Geel as deputy town clerk;

— Helen Quay as registrar of vital statistics;

— Deborah Liddle as deputy registrar of vital statistics;

— Lee Martin as deputy tax collector;

— Cheryl Frantzen as town historian;

— Dennis Decker as emergency preparedness coordinator;

— Nicholas Viscio as deputy supervisor;

— Ed Nicholson as data collector;

— Robert Delaney as building/sanitary inspector and zoning administrator;

— Daniel Sherman as assistant building inspector;

— John Norray as dog warden;

— Louis Saddlemire as park laborer;

— Deborah Liddle as court clerk;

— John McGivern as court officer;

— Loren Shafer Jr. as deputy highway superintendent;

— Catherine Bates as account clerk;

— David Quay as landfill attendant;

— Louis Tubbs as landfill attendant;

— Richard Dexter as landfill attendant;

— Carol Barber as minutes recorder for the zoning board;

— Lisa Chase as minutes recorder for the planning board;

— Robert Edwards as chairman of the zoning board and named these members with terms to expire on Dec. 31 of the following years — Amy Pokorny (2017), Gail Burgess (2016), James McDonald (2015), Dennis Barber (2014), Sue Mason (2013), Kenneth Kirik (2012), and Edwards (2011);

— Robert Price as chairman of the planning board and named these members with terms to expire on Dec. 31 of the following years — Earl Barcomb (2017), Betty Ketcham (2016), Driscoll (2015), Robert Gwin (2014), Thomas Wolfe (2013), Price (2012), and Brett Pulliam (2011);

— Timothy Frederick as chairman of the board of assessment review and named these members with terms to expire on Sept. 30 of the following years — Frederick (2015), Gerald Irwin (2014), Jocelyn Farrar (2013), Vall Pulliam (2012), andHoward Zimmer (2011);

— Councilwoman MaryEllen Nagengast as an ex officio member of the youth committee and named these members— Jean Forti, Ed Schmidt, Grace Cunningham, Rich Matlock, Sue VonHaugg, Jean Gagnon, Brett Pulliam, Janet Viscio, Anne Payne, and Laurie Picinich;

— Councilwoman Patricia Gage as an ex officio member of the conservation advisory council and named these members with terms to expire on Dec. 31 of the following years — Hank Donnelly (2016), Stephanie Baron (2015), Nathan Giordano (2014), Patricia Irwin (2012), and Chairwoman Cheryl Frantzen (2011). Vacancies remain for the terms that end in 2013 and 2017; and

— John Dorfman as town attorney at an annual salary of $17,732.


The board also unanimously set these salaries for 2011, which Hammond noted were the same as the salaries for 2010:

— Supervisor at $16,346;

— Superintendent of highways at $52,180;

— Town clerk at $12,338;

— Deputy town clerk at $12.62 hourly;

— Tax collector at $4,676;

— Assessor at $12,360;

— Data collector at $4,120;

— Council members at $3,750;

— Judges at $9,944;

— Registrar of vital statistics at $1,164;

— Emergency preparedness coordinator at $218;

— Building/sanitary inspector and zoning administrator at $9,336;

— Assistant building inspector at $4,015;

— Town historian at $712;

— Court officer at $1,862;

— Dog warden at $6,556;

— Park laborer at $13.96 hourly;

— Landfill attendants at $11.17 hourly;

— Court clerk at $16.38 hourly;

— Account clerk at $20.56 hourly;

— Deputy tax collector at $12.62; and

— Minutes recorder at $12.62.

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